You just got the good news- your local TV news station wants to feature you on their morning show. What an incredible opportunity to spread awareness about your small business or startup! The elation lasts about twelve minutes until you realize – shoot, what am I going to wear?
Take a deep breath. You’re going to look great, assuming, that is, if you follow our tips for looking your best during a TV interview.
Let’s look at the situation holistically first: you need to dress the part, especially if the news is coming to your place of business. If you are a local organic farmer or fitness coach, dress in “costume” – in other words wear your overalls or your whistle, things that you would wear on an everyday basis that will convince viewers that you are the real deal. These situations are probably not the norm, but they definitely happen and if you have an everyday attire that is not distracting and adds to your message, wear it!
Now, if you are a PR spokesperson representing, say, a national non-profit or a local chamber of commerce, then go the safe route of suit and tie for men and nice suit jacket with pants or skirt for women. It shows that a level of professionalism and expertise often called for when speaking on behalf of a larger organization.
New scenario: let’s say you’re a tech startup and you operate out of your dining room and CNN is on its way for that major interview you’ve been waiting for. Don’t wear your pajamas (unless that’s your shtick) but don’t feel like you need to overdress either. Wear what you would feel comfortable in on an everyday basis. In other words, look the role.
Let’s get into some specific tips for in-studio appearances:
Beware of whites, blacks and reds: Whites tend to glow and take over the screen whereas blacks absorb light and make details hard to see. Black is best kept on the bottom half in the form of a skirt or pants. If you have to wear black near your face, try muting it with a pastel or tan sweater. Reds and neons also need to stay home as they bleed and tend to take over the screen.
No to patterns, yes to solids: Patterns can take away from your overall look and distract on screen. To stay safe, stick to solid colors! Your overall look may feel boring but I promise it will translate better on screen.
Color choices: Pastels, purples and browns near your face are the most flattering. Blue is going to be your safest bet. Again, keep dark blacks and navy blues away from your face on your bottom half. (Side note: ask if you will be speaking in front a green screen. You don’t want to accidentally wear green and be a talking head in front of the green screen. Can you say Twilight Zone?)
Keep jewelry simple: Don’t wear anything too flashy or reflective, especially earrings that take away from your face instead of enhancing it. Also, beware of large necklaces that might get in the way of the microphone. Be safe and wear as little jewelry as possible.
Extra, extra!: Stuff happens. You know, with your luck, the day you have your interview is the day you will spill your coffee on your shirt driving to work. To stay on the safe side, bring an extra set of clothes (if nothing else, for peace of mind!).
Polished and wrinkle-free: Make sure your shirt, skirt, suit, tie, or whatever it is you’re wearing, has been ironed or pressed. You want to look your most professional and neat during the interview. First impressions make for lasting impressions.
No-go on the logo: No visible logos or brand names should be shown, with the exception of your own. Only wear a t-shirt wearing your brand or logo if it truly serves the interview and is, honestly, a really cool shirt. It might be best to consider leaving the t-shirt at home and opting for a nice suit instead.
Men in suits: Make sure half an inch of your shirt cuff is showing and you are wearing over-the-calf socks to avoid skin showing when you cross your legs. (Can you say white calves?!)
Keep it simple: You may feel a little boring, but stay away from trying a new hairstyle or trendy fashion unless, again, it fits your occupation (e.g., fashion designer or musician) The focus should be on the information you are giving about your organization and not the clash of colors you’re wearing.
The bottom line: you want people to focus on your words and ideas so be smart about your fashion choices. The smartest decisions on screen involve solid, muted, pastel colors on top and dark colors on the bottom with minimalistic jewelry, makeup and hairstyles. Let your personality shine by not having to worry about your clothes – you’ve got this! Cue the lights, camera…ACTION!
About Theresa Grillo: Theresa Grillo is a PR associate with Dave Manzer PR and Marketing, which was founded as a PR firm in Austin for tech startups in 2009 and as one of the only PR firms in the country providing performance-based PR pricing options. Theresa specializes in helping startups and emerging growth technology and consumer companies with their communication and media outreach needs. For more information about Theresa or PR over Coffee, email us at info(@)PRoverCoffee.com or tweet to @PROverCoffee.